Biodiversity

Biodiversity is the variation in living organisms, viewed within a given habitat, ecosystem or in the world as a whole. The concept is usually applied to the species diversity, although the notion of genetic biodiversity is applied to the variation in genes within an individual species. While most people think of rainforests as loci of great biodiversity, biomes such as oceans and grasslands are the likely repositories for even greater variation. Retention of diverse biota is important, since intact ecosystems are thought to be essential for provision of ecosystem services to humans, including maintenance of a diverse foodbank, pollination, clean water, flood control, pest control, waste decomposition, biomass energy resources and climate stability. Biodiversity is presently critical since we live in the era of the Mass Holocene Extinction, a period of species loss caused by man, and unrivaled in rate of species loss. Although the number of total species numbers in the tens of millions, most have not yet even been described. The extinction of a species is almost always related to destruction of habitat or man-made pollution.

  • Coral reefs (collection) Featured Article Coral reefs (collection) Coral reefs (collection)

    Coral reefs are one of the most diverse, complex, aesthetically appealing and threatened ecosystems on earth. This collection will include information on a wide range of topics... More »

  • Crustacea Featured Article Crustacea Crustacea

    Crustaceans are invertebrates belonging to the phylum Arthropoda and include such familiar groups as barnacles, crabs, crayfish, lobster, water fleas and pill bugs. Crustaceans... More »

  • Ecoregions of Utah (EPA) Featured Article Ecoregions of Utah (EPA) Ecoregions of Utah (EPA)

    The Ecoregions of Utah comprise a diverse set of plant communities and geomorphic provinces. Ecoregions denote areas of general similarity in ecosystems and in the type,... More »

  • Habitat fragmentation Featured Article Habitat fragmentation Habitat fragmentation

    Habitat fragmentation involves alteration of habitat resulting in spatial separation of habitat units from a previous state of greater... More »

  • Virus Featured Article Virus Virus

    A virus is a microscopic organism that can replicate only inside the cells of a host organism. Most viruses are so tiny they are only observable with at least a conventional... More »

  • South China Sea Featured Article South China Sea South China Sea

      The South China Sea is a critical world trade route and a potential source of... More »

  • Devonian Featured Article Devonian Devonian

    The Devonian period is a geologic time interval within the Paleozoic Era spanning from the end of the Silurian Period, aapproximately 417 million years before present (BP), to... More »

  • Spinner dolphin Featured Article Spinner dolphin Spinner dolphin

    The Spinner dolphin (Stenella longirostris), a marine mammal in the family of oceanic dolphins,  gets its name from the spinning behavior it shows when it leaps out of... More »

  • Permian Featured Article Permian Permian

    The Permian period lasted from 290 to 248 million years ago and was the last period of the Paleozoic Era. The distinction between the Paleozoic and the Mesozoic is made at the... More »

Recently Updated
Sierra Nevada forests Last Updated on 2015-01-29 19:20:06 WWF Terrestrial Ecoregions Collection The Sierra Nevada forests are the forested areas of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, which run northwest to southwest and are approximately 650 kilometers long and 80 km wide. The range achieves its greatest height towards the south, with a number of peaks reaching heights of over 4000 meters. Several large river valleys dissect the western slope with dramatic canyons. The eastern escarpment is much steeper than the western slope, in general.   The range supports a diverse set of natural communities with many endemic species and extraordinary habitats. A significant fraction of the land area in the Sierra Nevada Mountains is unforested, since elevations above the treeline do not support even conifer growth. This ecoregion is part of the Nearctic Realm. The Sierra Nevada forests ecoregion harbors one of... More »
Wasatch and Uinta montane forests Last Updated on 2015-01-27 12:38:28 WWF Terrestrial Ecoregions Collection The Wasatch and Unita montane forests ecoregion is a distinct block of high montane habitat stretching from southeastern Idaho and extreme southwestern Wyoming to the isolated ranges of the Colorado Plateau in southern Utah. The ecoregion includes the Wasatch Range, a major north-south range; and the Unitas, one of a very few major North American east-west ranges. This ecoregion is within the Nearctic Realm and is an element of the Temperate Coniferous Forests biome. The dominant vegetation of the ecoregion is coniferous forests of varying composition. Ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa), Douglas-fir (Psuedotsuga menziesii), and Subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa), and Englemann spruce (Picea engelmanni) communities all exist in these mountains in various associations. Limber pine (Pinus flexilis) also occurs... More »
Eastern Cascades forests Last Updated on 2015-01-19 22:30:17 WWF Terrestrial Ecoregions Collection The Eastern Cascades forests span the eastern slopes of the Cascade Mountains in Oregon and Washington, from the southern reaches of the Cascade Mountains Leeward Forests to northern California. Vegetation is highly variable throughout this ecoregion, being influenced chiefly by edaphic processes and disturbance regimes. Several ecotones exist, particularly along the Cascade crest where western Cascade forest types overlap with eastern Cascade forests (e.g., the Wenatchee National Forest in Washington has conifer species present on both sides of the Cascades) and along the lower timberline, where forest species mix with shrub and shrub-steppe communities. This ecoregion is considered part of the Nearctic Realm, and is given the ecocode NA0512 by the World Wildlife Fund; it is within the Temperate Coniferous... More »
Alberta Mountain forests Last Updated on 2015-01-16 14:48:16 WWF Terrestrial Ecoregions Collection The Alberta Mountain forests ecoregion lies entirely within Canada and almost fully within the province of Alberta, but hugs the Alberta-British Columbia border from Banff northward to Jasper and Kakwa. The ecoregion is classified within the Temperate Coniferous Forests biome. Mean annual temperature in the Eastern Continental Ranges is 2.5°C, mean summer temperature is 12°C and mean winter temperature is -7.5°C. Precipitation increases from east to west and also with elevation, from 600-800 millimetres (mm) per year. Valley regions are marked by warm, dry summers and mild, snowy winters, and subalpine areas have cool, showery summers and cold, snowy winters. This region covers the Rocky Mountains of Alberta, incorporating the eastern flanks of the Continental Ranges. The major peaks cluster... More »
Snake-Columbia shrub steppe Last Updated on 2015-01-14 18:54:29 WWF Terrestrial Ecoregions Collection   The Snake-Columbia shrub steppe is a vast, mostly arid ecoregion. Its easternmost limit is the Continental Divide in eastern Idaho. From there, the ecoregion follows the arc of the Snake River Plain as far as Hell's Canyon. The ecoregion thence extends throughout southeastern Oregon, spreading along the Deschutes River catchmentCatchment is the entire area of a hydrological drainage basin. to the Columbia River. It also includes, following hydrographic lines, parts of northern Nevada and the extreme northeast of California. To the north, the ecoregion dominates the western portion of the Columbia Basin in Washington. The Snake-Columbia shrub steppe is within the Nearctic Realm. The ecoregion is largely in the rain shadow of the Cascade Mountains and thus receives little precipitation. Latitude... More »